Making Whoopie…Pies

My kids love to puruse lovely food photos in cookbooks and tell me which things they’d like to make.  While my husband and son were making plans to watch the superbowl, my daughter was checking out a baking activity for us ladies.  In the Whoopie Pie cookbook by Love Food (UK) she spied after dinner mint whoopee pies, and that was it. She even checked the cupboard and saw we had the ingredients.  Except one which she couldn’t reach.  So while we were baking the cookies and getting ready to make the frosting I realized we were out of mint extract.  Oops!  Hmmmm.  Here’s where it’s good to have a stocked pantry and the ability to make substitutions and create your own flavors.  Although my daughter was hoping for lemon extract.  I’m not a fan of lemon and chocolate.  Orange, yes.  Lemon, no.  Next she suggested coffee.  I was surprised by her choice, but chocolate and coffee is a perfect flavor pairing.

 

So we made After Game Mocha Whoopie Pies.  My kids not having too many whoopee pies in their lifetime were surprised by how soft the “cookies” were.  I had to explain this is more like cake and the cookies aren’t hard like an ice cream sandwich.  They understood better after seeing them assembled.  And yes, they scored a touchdown with the whole family.  These would be great for Valentine’s Day.  You could even shape the cakes into hearts.

Mocha Whoopie Pies

(this makes about 30 pies)

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

scant 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa

large pinch of salt

6 tablespoons butter, softened

generous 1/3 cup vegetable shortening

3/4 cup light brown sugar

1 large egg, beaten

2/3 cup milk

 

Coffee Filling

1 1/4 cup cream cheese

1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

2 1/2 teaspoon coffee extract

1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugarm sifted plus extra for dusting

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line 2 large cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Sift together the flour, baking soda, cocoa and salt.

Place butter, shortening and sugar in a large bowl and beat with electric mixer until fluffy.  Beat in egg followed by half the flour mixture and the milk.  Stir in the rest of the flour mixture until incorporated.

Pipe or spoon small mounds of batter on the cookie sheets, spaced about 2 inches apart to allow for spreading.  Beake, one sheet at a time for 8 – 10 minutes until risen and just firm to the touch.  Cool for 5 minutes on pan, then carefully transfer with palate knife or spatula to a cooling rack to cool completely.

For the filling, place the cream cheese and butter in a bowl and beat together until well blended.  Beat in coffee extract and confectioner’s star until smooth.  Chill filling in refrigerator for 30 minutes.

To assemble carefully spoon the filling into a pastry bag fitted with a star nozzle or simply spread carefully on flat side of half the cakes.  Top the filling with a second cake and dust with confectioner’s sugar if desired.

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I Left My Heart…

We started Valentine’s Day with something pink as requested by my daughter.  Luckily I had strawberries and blended a few with almond milk in the blender.  Voila!  Quick and tasty pink milk.

Later in the day I was stunned by what’s become school Valentine’s.  My kids and I sat down to go thru the Valentine’s one by one.  Many kids made cards and stuck a piece of candy on there.  But no apparently candy companies are trying to say the piece of candy is the actual Valentine – printing a “to” and “from” on the wrapper itself.  What?  I remember when Valentine’s day at school was about creating a beautitful “mailbox” (doilies, lace, pant, felt, show box) as well as the Valentine’s to go inside.  The only candy associated with Valentine’s was chocolates and candy hearts.  OK I know there are lots of preprinted Valentine’s with movie characters etc.  But at least there’s a bit of fun as the child picks his favorite and chooses which for each pal – writing a message and name.  But a piece of crappy candy?  No message, no creativity – but lots of chemicals.  My kids knew they weren’t eating any of this, especially when my son read the ingredients and realized he couldn’t pronounce anything.

My husband had offered to make Valentine’s dinner.  Which was so nice since it was a usual Tuesday with school and late evening Tae Kwon Do for my son.  We pleasantly came home to a grilled lamb dinner (my favorite) with roasted potatoes and salad.  He had champagne for us and sparkling cider for the kids – complete with a strawberry in each glass.  For dessert he got creative with grilled apples over vanilla bean ice cream and drizzled with honey and sea salt.  We were all impressed and full.

Instead of the school candy, I came home with a box of assorted chocolates from Chocolatier Blue.  My husband was on the same wavelength as he brought me my own stash of beautiful Socola chocolates.  These are delicious and real works of art and make me forget about the school candy.

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Happy Post V-Day with Pot de Creme

For Valentine’s Day my husband and kids and I had a romantic San Francisco style dinner of cracked crab, chowder, spinach salad and sourdough.  O.K. it was made by me at home and not romantic (but sweet).  No worries, as my husband and I will go out on the weekend. 

I did want to do something special and make my husband’s favorite dessert.  Not only is his favorite Chocolate Pot de Creme, but specifically one from Foreign Cinema Restaurant in SF.  So I couldn’t have been any luckier when I saw the recipe from Foreign Cinema’s Gayle Pirie and John Clark in the Sunday, January 30th edition of the San Francisco Chronicle.  I secretly found it, cut it and squirreled it away for Valentine’s. 

Everyone liked it, especially the kids.  Although the Foreign Cinema atmosphere, waitstaff and clean up was missing.  My daughter and I even made the Naomi’s Almond Wafer’s which accompanied the article and served it with a strawberry on top.  Which was my daughter’s suggestion.

Click here for the recipe if you want something creamy, rich and comforting to share with your Valentine and/or kids.  This was quite easy, although can be messy.  I was also glad I removed the ramekins from the hot water (just out of the oven) without kids in the kitchen as it could have been trouble.  I found I needed to cook them about 4 – 5 minutes longer than the 15 – 20 minutes, as they were all liquid.

removing from water
my sous chef making wafers
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I Left My Heart….

Were you wondering what happened to Valentine’s Day?  Asking yourself, “Why didn’t she do a blog with heart foods?”  Well, I was so hearted out I needed a break.  Yes a heartbreak. (pun intended).  The good thing about hearts is that they work all year long.  In fact I think cutting hearts in cookies or sandwiches away from Feb. 14th is more meaningful, cute and unexpected by your children.

This year I did the treats for both kids’ classes.  So I wasn’t busy blogging about heart shaped goodies, but I was busy making them.  Here are some pics…

These heart sandwiches were for my daughter’s class.  These were super simple and festive to make.  Here’s what I did:

1. Using a small 1 1/2 – 2 inch heart cutter, cut out hearts from slice of sandwich bread. (carefully cutting you’ll get 4 out of each slice).

2. Put bread hearts into pairs for sandwiches.

3. Spread one side of bread hearts with cream cheese

4. Spread another side of bread hearts with strawberry or raspberry fruit spread

5. Put together. Ta dah! 

 

Heart shaped graham crackers along with lovely organic, Oxnard, CA. grown strawberries for my son’s kindergarten class.  These were pretty and easy to pass out, nestled in recycled paper muffin cups.

Then, as we were hurrying to make and eat dinner before another evening school event (and the cookie cutter was still out) we make some simple heart shaped cheese toast.

The cookie cutters really come in handy for all kinds of things: from tortillas to cookies to sandwiches to cheese, etc. there’s lots of ways to create fun shapes all year long.  It’s also a fun activity that can involve your kids.  For now I’ve left my heart in the basket with the other 100+ cutters I own (yes, it’s a bit of an obsession), but look out you never know what shape will be chosen tomorrow.  St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner.  Then there’s baseball season, Easter, May Day, first day of summer…..

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